Wednesday, February 28, 2007

More airport stuff

I got a lot of feedback from people about hanging the coat on the door - and even heard from one chap who wrote me to say he'd actually hung his laptop on the hook of the stall door the morning before he read my blog. Fortunately for him, nobody swiped it but he said he's learned his lesson.

On the subject of laptops there's another airport scam to be aware of. You walk up to the security check point, you place your laptop on the scanner and, just as you're about to step through the detector, someone jumps in front apologizing but claiming they're running late for a flight.

They, of course, are part of the scam. They have their pockets loaded with all manner of metallic objects that set the scanner off and hold everyone up. Meanwhile, their accomplice on the other side has claimed your lap top as his own and is gone.

By the time you get past the hapless guy with all the metal your lap top is gone.

You've been warned.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Village is Missing its Idiot

I was walking into a bank the other day and I noticed the ubiquitous "The possession of a weapon on these premises, licensed or otherwise, is an offense."

Now, this sign, of which there are many, begs the question; "at whom are they aimed at?" (no pun intended)

The only person I could possibly see being effected by it would be a law abiding citizen who has passed the background check required to possess a firearm and carry it concealed. He would, being law-abiding, turn round and place his weapon in his vehicle.

Now, here's the bit where whoever placed the sign, proved his worth to the hall of fame of village idiots everywhere. Just how many law-abiding citizens have robbed banks? [Careful village idiots reading this...that's a trick question and the clue is "law-abiding"] The answer, and this again is for the village dunces, is NONE!!!

The bank robbers are breaking the law and are therefore NOT considered law-abiding.

So here's the second part of the question to help the village idiot sign placers realize why they're considered idiots; How many bank robbers, walking up to the bank have seen the sign, stamped their feet in frustration, let out a hearty "Drat, foiled again. I can't take my gun inside for I'll be breaking the law." and then walked away - to rob a bank without a sign maybe?

The answer to both is zero.

So, just to make it really easy in case you still haven't got it. Bank robbers, as a general rule, will not pay much attention to signs telling them not to take guns into banks. Law abiding citizens on the other hand will, but they're not your problem.

Here's one final question to ponder. If the law-abiding citizen concealed his weapon and carried it in anyway, how would you know? (another hint here for you...consider very carefully the word "concealed." It is, what we in the investigations industry call "A Clue.")

You know the really funny bit? In certain states the signs have to be certain sizes and certain colors and usually aren't, which means the guy who put the sign up just broke the law.

PS: I'd like to see a bank advertise that it was open and friendly to gun owners. I'd like to see it go a step further and advertise that all its tellers and managers were armed and all shot together on the weekend. And here's the 64,000 dollar question for the village many robberies do you reckon such a bank would have in any given year? (the answer is the same answer as above i.e ZERO)

PPS: As a law abiding citizen transporting vast sums of cash to the bank I have a right to carry to defend my money. When I arrive at the bank (with the sign) you don't provide a lock box for me to put my pistol in so what am I supposed to do with it? Some pit bull lawyer is going to sue a bank for millions one day because his client will be mugged at the door by a bad guy who knows the good guy won't be carrying for lack of a place to put his weapon. You, with your sign, and no safe place for weapon storage, will have denied him his right to self defense. Good luck with that one.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Infamous Fight or Flight

I always hear people talking about "Fight or Flight" as if that's the only two options in a fight. So which one is the person who is "paralysed by fear" doing? What about all the people who look up to see a car bearing down on them, or an avalanche who freeze in their tracks until flattened? Were they running or were they fighting?

"Freeze" is a third element that needs to be discussed. In some cases it's intentional and others it's not. I'm no expert but I imagine someone who's never been exposed to a certain event, or even thought about it, might freeze. Take the car for example. You look up and it's coming at you at 35 mph...when would the average person ever have thought about that one happening? Their brain quickly sifts through the memory banks for something...anything and nothing appears. Results, frozen in place until flattened.

Freezing obviously stands us in good stead in other situations. Military personnel are taught to freeze during night ops if a flare is tripped, for movement will give you away faster than anything else. Commandos are taught to use it when moving behind enemy lines and think they may have been spotted. Snipers use the same skill when 'stalking' into place for their shot.

Undoubtedly our cave men ancestors used it to survive being eaten by predatory animals. Many of the latter hunt by sight and freezing is very effective against big game either when hunting them or being hunted by them.

So remember, next time you hear the old "fight or flight" line freeze, and remember the third option nobody ever seems to talk about.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

You've been warned

A common mistake by people using the bathroom is to hang their jacket on the hook conveniently located on the stall door.

The thief waits a few seconds till you get to a point where giving chase isn't going to happen anytime soon, sticks his hand over the stall door and legs it with your jacket in hand.

If you're travelling this can be disastrous as most people keep their tickets and passport inside their coat pocket for easy access while boarding and passing through the ubiquitous security checkpoints.

Either keep wearing it, or use the handicap stall and stick it on the railing provided inside but don't hang it behind the door.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Where You Gonna Go?

While working in executive protection in the UK I landed the gig protecting soap opera star Emma Sands for her wedding and reception. I had to take her from the registry office all the way out to Pinewood Studios on the day which meant advance work the day before.

That involved walking all over the two locations, liaising with people who needed to be liaised with and, most importantly, planning the route. Paul D who I was working with on the gig, and myself, ran a standard advance which for the uninitiated involves mapping out all the exits, times of traffic lights, alternate routes, whereabouts of hospitals, police stations and so on.

That way, if en route to the reception there's an accident for example, security knows immediately where to go for help.

There's a lesson to be learned here for civilians. Do you (or your significant other) drive home the same way from work everyday? Do they do the same drive on the weekends going to the in-laws for dinner? If so, do you know at any given point in the trip where is the nearest hospital, fire station, police station, 24 hour grocery store or garage etc? They should, and so should you.

Imagine your wife is coming home late one night and is being followed by a car load of thugs? Would she come home and bring trouble with her? Or would she know EVERY location on the way home that's open 24/7 so all she has to do is drive there knowing it will be open and staffed?

[Imagine how long a guy is going to last chasing a damsel in distress into a fire station full of firemen?]

And don't park outside...if it's necessary...if it's life threatening, drive right through the front doors of the place. That will get someones attention.

Learn to save one else will do it for you.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Connie Francis the singer was robbed and raped in a NY city hotel many years ago and it was her celebrity status that caused it to make the news and not much else. To add insult to injury her bodyguard was in the next room while the attack went on for two hours.

Hotel security is always scant at best. The safes in the room can't be trusted, the safety chains wouldn't stop a determined eight year old and with poor key control nobody knows who can access your room.

One aid that I always carry, either when I travel myself or with clients, is a simple rubber door wedge. They cost less than three dollars and buy you a hell of a lot of peace of mind and they take up almost no space at all in your luggage.

I wonder what would cost more...a bodyguard or the door stop? So yourself a favor and grab a couple next time you're at Lowes/Home Depot and keep them in your luggage. They're worth their weight in gold.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Putting It To Rest

I was working security Saturday night and talking with a customer while we had them waiting at the door. He knew I'd been involved in martial arts and asked me if it was true you could hit someone in the nose and drive their nose bone into their brain. Whaaaaa???!!!

Is that one still really floating around? I thought it went out with having to tell people you're a black belt before you hit them and registering your hands with the police as deadly weapons. Apparently not.

So, if you happen to know anyone who still thinks that it's true - or if you think so yourself - here's the deal. NO...YOU CAN'T!
See the big hole where the nose would be? There is no bone! It's normally a piece of cartilage and that's it. Note also how far it is from the brain.
The only thing I'm aware of that could even come close would be someone immensely big, hitting someone very tiny and breaking a small piece of the bone at the top of the nose area and driving a sliver into what is called the cribiform plate. This could, in theory, allow mucus into the brain cavity which could lead to a bacterial infection provided the victim couldn't get to a hospital in 24 hours. But if someone that big is hitting someone that small, I think you've got other things to worry about.
So please, spread the word and lets put that old chestnut to bed.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Security Driving Tip

This one comes straight out of body guarding 101 but applies across the board.

Whenever you're driving in traffic and you pull up to a car in front, make sure you can see the bottom of his back tyres (tires for the American readers) over the hood (bonnet for the English) of your car.

If you can it means you have enough room to hook your wheels left or right and get out of there should the need arise. If you're so close you can't and something happens you're either going to have to ram the car in front or wait till he moves...neither of which are good options, especially if he's part of a set-up.

Simple technique - the best ones often are - but worth its weight in gold given the amount of car-jackings and road-rage incidents there are in the world today.

Given the amount of time people spend in their vehicles I'll spend a fair amount of time on tips and tricks that will make you safer while you're doing it.


Friday, February 16, 2007


I was talking to a mate today and remembered a portion of my hotel security lecture. In India, when you walk outside one of the very biggest hotels, there is a huge sign strung across the road saying "Beware of Pick Pockets." Conveniently, the sign is in several different languages.

The amusing thing is that it's the local pick pockets who put the sign up!!!

What's the first thing the average tourist does when he sees the sign? Pats his pocket where his wallet is to reassure himself it's still where he put it. In so doing, of course he lets the pickpocket know where it is thus saving the enterprising thief time.

The very best art those from Sth America who target London and Paris during the holiday seasons. They work in teams and quickly pass the lifted wallet from team member to team member. Even if you feel it gone and grab the guy you think has it, it is already five team members away.

According to the copper I trained with in London, they mail them back en masse to a post box in their home town thus insuring there's no evidence to be found during a search at the airport or their flat.

You can make their job a tad harder. Immediately check after you've been "bumped" by anyone. Carry your wallet, or cash, in your front pockets and never an inside pocket on a jacket which is the easiest of all to lift. Ladies keep your pocket books/purses closed at all times. The biker trick of keeping a chain attached to your wallet and your belt isn't bad either. Doesn't look very fasionable but good luck getting one of those away from someone.

One of my mates on a body guard team I worked on had Velcro on his and Velcro in his pocket so it involved a modicum of effort to get it out.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cut To Shreds

Do yourself a favour...if you don't have a cross-cut shredder yet get one tomorrow and start using it.

ID theft is a huge problem...and getting bigger all the time. Contrary to what Hollywood would have you believe the bad guys aren't hacking into your computer to get your info...they raid your letterbox and they raid your trash.

As a former Private Investigator a useful tool for us was to take some one's garbage and sort through it. You would be astounded at the amount of personal information people are dumping in their trash, assuming, incorrectly, that's once it's there it's safe from prying eyes. IT'S NOT!!!

When it comes to shredders the best ones are the cross cut shredders. (That means it cuts the paper both lengthwise and longways) Regular strip shredders can be circumvented by taking out the paper and (laboriously) putting it all back together. You can't do that with a cross cut because it makes your documents look like confetti.

What should go in the shredder? Pretty much anything that has an account number on it, phone number, address, PIN, Social Security Number et al.

Don't forget...the hundred dollars the shredder will cost is way cheaper and more convenient than sorting out a stolen identity and all the aggravation that surrounds repairing the damage.


My Mate Marcus

If you're reading this blog you probably enjoy the same things I do. If that's the case, and you've never had the pleasure of reading Marcus Wynne's yourself a favor and pick up any one of his excellent three books.

Marcus' site can be found here Marcus Wynne and you can read all about this amazing man on his home page.

His books are a tour de force with regards to being realistic and he's one of a rare few men I have a lot of time for.


PS: He's written a 4th book which is currently at the publishers. I had the good fortune and pleasure to read the first chapter (and now I chew my finger nails waiting for it to come out so I can see how the damned thing ends LOL) when Marcus was here with our mutual friend, and another legend, Dennis Martin.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Millions of Boy Scouts Have it Wrong???

A lot of people (who should know better) accuse me of being paranoid because I'll sit in a restaurant facing the door, kick a wedge under a hotel door, and use the stall in the bathroom instead of the urinal etc. These same folks all wear their seat belts when they drive however, which just proves that hypocrisy is alive and well in the good old US of A.

Why is putting on a seat belt to protect oneself in the unlikely event of an accident any different than kicking a wedge under a hotel door in the unlikely event of someone trying to break into the room? Why is it any different than popping into the stall instead of using the urinal in the unlikely event of a mugging or assault in the bathroom?

Let's look at the word paranoia. According to the dictionary, it's most commonly a baseless fear of others and I'm not afraid. If I was, I'd be home hiding under the bed. Next, my concerns are not baseless as you've only got to watch the local news or read the paper (Or work as a bouncer, bodyguard or military police officer for instance) to learn about the amount of assaults that take place on innocent members of the public every day.

So either the seat belt user is also paranoid or we're both simply prepared...only I'm prepared for more things than they are.

That's the other thing that I don't get. It's not like taking those precautions take a significant amount of time. How long does it take to take the chair facing the door instead of the other one? How long does it take to walk into the stall instead of standing in the open? How long does it take to kick the wedge under the door of the hotel room? All of them take about the same amount of time it takes to put on a seat belt I reckon and, if you practice them for twenty-one days, just like the seat belt, they become second nature.

The Boy Scouts have it right...BE PREPARED


Friday, February 9, 2007

Out With The Old, In With The New

A lot of advice that was good years ago isn't so good now. Take for example the old saw about surrendering your valuables if you got mugged. Remember the line..."your watch won't die for you, you shouldn't die for it."

That used to be great advice. No amount of money in your wallet was worth losing your life over so give it up. Nowadays however a disturbing new trend is occurring. More and more muggers and criminal low-lifes are killing people anyway, whether they hand over their belongings or not. A search of Google will show up examples including the "all over the news" one in Washington DC not so long ago.

The jury is currently out on this but don't expect the forward thinkers of modern self defense to take long to begin advising fight back regardless.


PS: The old time muggers must be lamenting this know, the ones that used to give you five bucks back for a cab home, providing you asked nicely. Pretty soon, when the word gets around, and everyone starts fighting back, they're actually going to have to start working for their money.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

When I went to school and got caught playing up I was physically belted by the teacher - anything from a wooden duster hurled at my head, to being picked up out of my seat by the sideburn to a physical clout across the back of the bonce. None of it did any physical damage but it bloody hurt.

At that point I was sent outside to stand in the hallway where, if I was spotted by the monitor, taken along to the headmaster's office for a caning. This would be one to six strokes of a bamboo rod across my behind. Again, no lasting physical damage but lots of pain.

He, the headmaster, would then phone my mother who, upon my arrival home would order me to my room, minus an afternoon snack and minus the right to go play with my mates, to await the arrival of my father. (psychological warfare anyone?)

She would, upon his arrival home, relay the message from school and another beating would ensue despite my pretending to be asleep and or other equally useless strategies designed to evoke sympathy. Again, no lasting physical damage from any of the corporal punishment, just hurt at the time and reinforced the message to toe the line or else.

FOUR punishments for one transgression (which, when you figure I was only caught about one in four times was about right)

NOBODY who grew up in that environment ever talked back to teachers, threatened physical violence or took guns to school and shot everyone who pissed them off. We were too damned scared of what would happen to us if we did.

Nowadays we have these wizard politically correct child rearing experts who have decided spanking is bad and parents, who unlike mine, not only won't side with the school when their beloved, perfect, can do no wrong offspring plays up, but actually try and sue the school and the teachers, if they lay a hand on their brat.

And now, said brats go to school threatening teachers, shooting teachers and classmates and teachers actually receive memos warning them not to chastise kids in front of their peers lest they feel disrespected and come back and shoot you. (True of my karate students is a teacher and I saw the memo)

I'll leave you all to draw the necessary conclusions from this but know this, if (and it's a HUGE if) I ever have kids I'll sue the school system every day they don't belt my child at least once.


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Running on Empty

One of the tips I picked up on one of the body guard courses I did was treat the halfway mark on your gas gauge in your car as your new empty mark. In other words that gas tank should NEVER be less than half full. (or more than half empty, for all you pessimists reading this.)

Think about it for a minute...

You're driving home and notice you're being followed
You're at home and one of the kids has an accident and you need to get to the emergency room asap
The dog/cat needs an emergency ride to the vets
You're driving somewhere, get in a road rage incident and some clown is chasing you trying to shoot you

The list could go on but you get the idea. Having at least a half tank of gas at all times is strategically smart and buys you peace of mind.

A good drill is to get a mate/spouse/significant other and tell them...if you ever get in the car and I have less than half a tank dinner/coffee is on me, or pay them ten bucks every time they catch you. That will give you the incentive to treat it with the importance it deserves.


PS: If you have a relatively small gas tank in your car (My Beemer has a 26 gallon tank, my old Explorer had a 15) and can't stand the stopping to gas up all the time change it to the 1/4 full mark.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Buddy Act

As a recon diver in the Foreign Legion it was drummed into us again and again...never, ever dive without a buddy. If anything happened - cramps, run out of air, trapped, wounded, bitten by something nasty etc - your partner was there to render aid and assistance.

That's not a bad idea for women to adopt when out and about. We'd practice snatch and grabs during commando training - ride up in a van, grab someone off the street for intelligence gathering purposes - and doing it on one person was easy...on two, a nightmare.

Talk to any burglar (or commando) and one guard dog is relatively easy to deal with. Two again, presents a huge problem. It's the same for a human predator trying to get a hold of a victim. Put yourself in his have one lone woman walking to her car in a car park...or you have two of them. Who's going to be easier to control and deal with?

I know it's not always going to be possible but, if it's a shopping trip during holidays (crime rate goes up big time during holidays), a night out on the town or going somewhere unfamiliar, plan the trip with a mate.


Thursday, February 1, 2007

Sign of the times

It's fast reaching the point where bouncers in Charlotte are going to have to work wearing bullet resistant vests.

Two weeks ago, one of my students had a gun pulled on him and his co-worker while they did security at a club. They'd refused a guy entry and so he pulled a pistol and threatened to shoot them.

Sunday night, at a club called Crush, two folks were shot in the legs while on the dance floor. What's even scarier about that one is that the consensus is that it was an accident; i.e some numb skull dropped a weapon they were carrying illegally and it went off. (A perfect illustration by the way, of the cheap nature of thugs and the junk they buy. A good quality weapon wouldn't have gone off just because it fell on the ground)

Another bouncer was shot a few months ago in a parking lot outside the club trying to break up some trouble.

When I did door work years ago the chances of someone coming back with a gun was somewhat slim and it was usually reserved for doorman who'd gone overboard and crossed a line. Now it seems to be for any damn reason at all.

Be careful out there